The leaves are crisp, the winds are blowing in, no longer across broad stretches of outfield but rather thru the open "Emergency Exit" doors of the DAC, ensuring that it stays a brisk 87 degrees inside. Yes, basketball season is back again in West Philadelphia, and I hope to harness part of the love and energy that so many have for this team and this game right here on these electronic pages this season. Any and all are welcome for the ride, and to enjoy the (hopefully and intentionally well moderated) comments section below.
The expectations for this years Drexel team, based off of media polls, preseason previews, and your standard guy on the street, are high this year. This seems right, as DU is playing three seniors who have all been four year starters, including a shooting guard who could have two Drexel degrees by now, or a bakers dozen or so from Delaware. Going into UCLA the "guys that know" in Vegas' smoke filled rooms projected a single digit game between the #22 UCLA Bruins (full disclosure: missing key senior Travis Wear) which shows a good deal of respect for this Drexel team as well.
Whether or not one should take anything away from the first game of any teams season is worth arguing about, and certainly a midnight tipoff a six hour flight from home against a ranked team is up on the high end of the bell curve of challenges so everyone might be better off throwing this one out. It's due to this (and my own travel and time limitations) that I'd like to merge the takeaways from this contest with the takeaways from the teams second contest against Illinois St.
Thru two games, there are some glaring changes between this years version and last years Sons of Bru-narchy. Jumping to the top of the list:
- About 10 pounds of muscle on Kaz Abif. This. Matters.
- Abif and Ruffin playing 141 minutes of 160 possible so far at the 4 and 5. Double Edged sword?
- Chris Fouch is back, has taken 29 shots in 2 games and probably needs to shoot more.
- With Damion Lee off to a slow start, Bru has removed the duct tape linking Tavon Allen and the bench, giving him 20.5 minutes a game in the first couple of contests and showing a legitimate four guard rotation of scorers for the first time since Mason, King, Goss and Whitworth. I can't believe I just wrote that. If you aren't excited about this team, go compare this years guards to every. single. season. that. bru. has. been. here. If Cannady can do more than catch a couple of minutes when Frantz needs a spell, that's a bonus.
- Athletic bigs. Being down to one space eater is huge for this team, it allows the guards to penetrate more and spaces the floor better. Abif's jump shot will make his defender step out a bit further than they had to last year. Had a great shot of Bah's athleticism with his block at Illinois St.
- 70% free throw shooting!
There are also some similarities:
- Allen is still in love with his midrange jumper.
- Little sign of depth up front - the minutes for the bigs, especially an injury prone guy like Abif, have to be concerning.
- Massenat putting up Saddler numbers, but without the lack of control, suspensions, taunting, or being from Delaware
- 20 turnovers in 2 games, at least 25% as a direct result of inbounds plays.
- There should be some defensive concerns. It was a middle of the pack defense last year, and while the loss of McCoy may help space things out on offense, it certainly will hurt the defense and rebounding.
- Not feeding the post. This was clearly a point of emphasis for the staff against UCLA as time after time the ball would get sent in after stoppages, and time after time it would never touch a big mans hands inside the arc after that. Through two games Abif and Ruffin have shot 12/19 (63%) from the floor. They might be worth a look.
I'll follow up to this with a blog intro post in the next day or two, get into the new rules and their projected effects in the near future (lots of questions about this already) and hopefully you will see a lot of progressions in the blog setup and layout this week as I get down to work on something I've been threatening to myself to do for years now. In the meantime, please feel free to use the comments section below to talk about the product on the floor for DU. Thanks for indulging me by reading, and thanks to the Dragons for giving us a team to talk about. Two roadies, one win, and they're off and running. See you in Piscataway.